How to perform Upward Facing Intense Stretch Pose
Balance on your buttocks as you bring your legs up, aiming to reach your shins with your head. Draw your abs in and extend upwards through the crown of your head and the tips of your toes.
What is Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana?
An advanced and very intense forward bend with elements of balancing.
You shift your weight into and balance on your coccyx as you draw your legs upwards to meet you. The idea is to practice the same action as in Paschimottanasana but with the extra effort of keeping the balance. Focus on extending your spine and legs instead of simply jamming yourself into this pose.
When to use Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana?
This is an advanced forward bend that requires a good amount of core strength, flexibility, and balance. For this reason, this pose typically appears in sequences for experienced students.
There are milder variations of it, though, that are more available to students of lower levels. For example, you can start practicing the Boat Poses as a way of developing the necessary strength and flexibility. Eventually, you’ll be able to do Ubhaya Padangusthasana. Once you’re comfortable with the latter, Urdhva Mukha Paschimottasana can be learned.
When achieved, this pose has a large range of benefits, both mental and physical. Just like most balancing poses, Urdhva Mukha Paschimottasana improves your focus and concentration and can have a calming and clarifying effect on your mind, helping you to rechannel yourself away from trivial, bothersome thoughts. When it comes to the body, this pose is said to improve the function of your abdominal organs, strengthen your core and back muscles, and stretch your hamstrings. It also helps tone your shoulders and arms as you reach forward and up to grab your toes.